Speaker Pelosi issued the following statement today on the European Parliament's decision to award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Hu Jia, a Chinese human rights activist currently imprisoned by the Chinese government:
Since 1988, the Sakharov Prize has been awarded to individuals or organizations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms and against oppression and injustice. Past recipients of the prize have included Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma.
“The announcement that Hu Jia has been awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is welcome news for all those who fight for freedom and human rights in China and Tibet. In addition to advancing human rights, Hu has diligently worked to raise awareness of the needs of AIDS patients and environmental protection — issues the Chinese government must acknowledge. The European Parliament is to be commended for its bold decision.
“Hu Jia is in prison for criticizing the Chinese government's record on human rights, most recently, his call on the international community to hold Beijing responsible for its promises to improve these rights before the 2008 Summer Olympics. He is risking his life, family and freedom so he can speak the truth. I call on the Chinese government to immediately and unconditionally release Hu Jia from prison and to respect the fundamental freedoms of all the people in China.”